Creating an Effective Self-Study
The requirements for the Self-study document are listed in the Quality Assurance Framework (QAF), Section 5.1.3. The following table is intended to act as a supplemental guide for developing an effective Self-study that serves as a driver of continuous improvement. Certain elements in this table are required by the QAF, Section 5.1.3. These are marked with an asterisk (*). Best Practice elements not marked with an asterisk are recommended but are not required by the QAF.
|Feature||Best Practices||Practices to Avoid|
|Goal/Purpose||The Self-study is a vehicle for continuous improvement and reflects an honest self-analysis of the program’s strengths and weaknesses, and considers where and how improvements can be made.||The Self-study is aimed at defending or justifying the status quo or meeting minimum criteria.|
|Focus of the Self-study||The Self-study is broad-based, reflective, forward-looking and includes critical analysis of the program(s)*.|
When a single omnibus document is used for the review of different program levels (for example, graduate and undergraduate), program modes, and/or programs offered at different locations, each discrete program is still readily identifiable, analyzed and evaluated*.
The Self-study focuses on the undergraduate and/or graduate program(s) under review (as required by the IQAP and the Quality Assurance Framework).
|The Self-study is descriptive rather than reflective and analytical.|
The Self-study focuses exclusively on past-practice and does not include a sense of how analysis of past-practice will inform continuous improvement going forward.
Discrete program elements are not identifiable when more than one program (or program level) is being addressed within a single Self-study.
The Self-study focuses on the academic unit (department) rather then on the undergraduate and/or graduate program(s).
|Process||A methodology/guidance for preparing the Self-study is developed, which includes clear guidelines and suggested methods for the collection of data from a variety of sources, as well as describing the importance of critical analysis and careful record-keeping.|
The methodology/guidance contains a clear description of how the views of students (past and present), faculty, and staff are to be obtained*.
The Self-study includes a description of how it was prepared, including details on how the views of faculty, staff and students were obtained and considered*.
|The methodology/guidance for the Self-study is delineated only after the key elements of the Self-study have been completed, or is not developed at all.|
The views of other faculty, staff and students are not obtained.
The process for the drafting and finalizing of the Self-study is ad-hoc.
|Record Keeping||The program has developed a plan for record-keeping relating to the Self-study, including ensuring accurate records of feedback, responses to feedback, and sign-offs. The records and associated documentation are accessible for future reference.||Records relating to the Self-study are difficult to access and may not be readily available for future reference.|
|Authorship||The Self-study results from a participatory, self-critical process and documents involvement in its preparation of all faculty and staff in the program, as well as current and recently graduated students.||The Self-study is written by a single person, without evidence of consultation with (or sometimes even knowledge of) the program’s faculty, staff and students.|
|Student Involvement||The mechanisms for securing active student involvement in the preparation of the self study are established in the methodology/guidance.|
Students have an active role throughout the process, including planning, self-analysis, and the preparation of the Self-study.
Data from a student survey, focus groups, or other mechanisms is used in the self-analysis. The Self-study includes data from a number of graduated cohorts as well as current students.
An orientation session or guidebook is available to orient students to the purpose of the Self-study, the role of the Cyclical Program Review in continuous improvement, and the university’s QA processes in general.
|There is no effective plan in place for student consultation or participation.|
Students may be consulted, but data collected from student consultations/surveys is not incorporated into the self-analysis.
Students may be consulted, but they are not provided with a sufficient orientation to understand the process or their role.
Student data relates to current students only; data from recent graduates has not been collected and analysed.
|Use of Previous Reviews||Concerns and recommendations raised in previous reviews, especially those detailed in the Final Assessment Report and Implementation Plan and subsequent monitoring reports from the previous Cyclical Review of the program, are treated as a tool for continuous improvement. Descriptions of how these have been addressed indicate that concerns / recommendations have been synthesized and considered in the larger context of how the program approaches continuous improvement and program review*.||The program’s responses to concerns and recommendations raised in previous reviews may be included, but there is no indication that these have substantively informed the program’s approach to continuous improvement.|
No reference to the concerns and recommendations raised in the previous review.
|Treatment of Items Flagged for Follow-up in the Monitoring Report and/or Items Flagged for Follow-up by the Quality Council, in the Case of the First Cyclical Review of a New Program.||Issues flagged for follow-up by the Quality Council at the time of the program’s approval and/or through the new program’s monitoring process are treated as a tool for continuous improvement and addressed in the Self-study accordingly. Descriptions of how these have been addressed indicate that these issues have been synthesized and considered in the larger context of how the program approaches continuous improvement and program review*.||The program’s responses to issues raised for follow-up reports may be included, but there is no indication that these have substantively informed the program’s approach to continuous improvement.|
No reference to items flagged for the first Cyclical Review of the program.
|Treatment of data||Program-related data and measures of performance, including applicable national and professional standards are analysed and used as the basis for performance evaluation. Data analysis contributes to the assessment of strengths and weaknesses of the program*.||Raw data are attached as appendices or used only in a descriptive manner.|
|Evaluation Criteria||The Self-study addresses each of the evaluation criteria and quality indicators specified in the IQAP and in the Quality Assurance Framework Section 220.127.116.11, for each discrete program being reviewed.||The Self-study does not address each of the evaluation criteria and quality indicators specified in the IQAP and in the Quality Assurance Framework Section 18.104.22.168, for each discrete program being reviewed.|
|Areas of Strength / Unique Curriculum / Program Innovations / Creative Components / High Impact Practices||The Self-study addresses the program’s areas of strength, unique curricular elements, program innovations, creative components, and other high impact practices and indicates how best practices will be shared within the program and across the institution*.|
The Self-study indicates that best practices in one area will be used as a driver for continuous improvement in other areas.
|The Self-study does not include references to the program’s unique curricular elements, program innovations, creative components, and other high impact practices. Or, if these are included, they are listed and not integrated into the program’s approach to continuous improvement.|
|Areas for Improvement / Enhancement / Curricular Change||The Self-study notes any areas for improvement, areas holding promise for enhancement and/or opportunities for curricular change identified by staff, faculty and students. The Self-study includes analysis of these areas and/or plans for incorporating these suggestions into concrete actions*.|
The Self-study takes a forward-looking approach to any identified areas for improvement, enhancement and/or curricular change.
|The Self-study responds to the identification of areas for improvement, areas holding promise for enhancement and/or opportunities for curricular change in a defensive manner.|
|Assessment of Relevant Academic Services||The Self-study includes a clear assessment of the adequacy of all relevant academic services that directly contribute to the academic quality of each program under review*.|
Each relevant academic service (for example, the library, IT services, and/or the Centre for Teaching and Learning) has had input into the assessment of the adequacy of the respective services.
|The Self-study does not include a clear assessment of the adequacy of all relevant academic services that directly contribute to the academic quality of each program under review.|
Relevant academic services have not been consulted regarding their contributions to the program under review.
|NOTE: The university may identify any other pertinent information that it deems appropriate for inclusion. The input of others deemed to be relevant and useful, such as graduates of the program, representatives of industry, the professions, practical training programs, and employers may also be included.|